The day I had been awaiting for finally arrived!! I had been running like crazy, training for my first 10k (6 mile) race since my dose of chemo three years ago. You see, three years ago I ran the same race two weeks after my final dose. This race was for me a celebration of life. It was not a personal best run. In fact, it was not even close. I was ecstatic to finish.
Time passed and I spent a fair amount of time in the physiotherapist clinic working on some of my long term side effects involving how the drugs had impacted my muscles and the resultant issues (like my knees being pulled off track). In the three years following my treatments my running has become somewhat sketchy. I'm not in as good of shape, not as fast, and am carrying twenty more pounds than my previous life. But I do run because I love it.
In the last couple of months I've been working very hard at increasing my mileage and endurance. Last night I drove the three hours to Calgary where I met up with my best friend Jeanne, incidentally the same person who ran the Melissas with me the only other time I made the attempt. Today we woke up and prepared to drive another hour to the stunningly beautiful town of Banff in the Canadian Rockies where our race was to occur.
Unfortunately, we had not factored into our drive time the time it would take to drop Jeanne's dog Scout off at my brother's in Cochrane (a town on the way). Let's just say we were running tight on time. Our adventure began with my pushing the speed limits and expressing road rage at a very erratic BMW who for some reason was taking it rather personally when anyone tried to pass him. This made me a wee bit grumpy.
Crawling through construction we pulled into the town of Banff. It was 10:20am. Uh - the race started at 10:30. I pulled into one of the public parking lots only to follow the most painfully slow driver as we wound our way to the top to discover there were no more stalls left. I began the slow parking lot trawl looking for a spot, any spot! Finally, parking beside the yellow painted curb we hoped for the best (no ticket) and began speed walking towards our start. May I point out the race has begun by this point. After a pit spot of the washroom we broke into a run.
Watching racers running in the other direction we optimistically ran to the starting line. (About a kilometre.) Crossing the start line, breathing heavy after our sprint I requested a walk break to catch my breath. Yep, we walked the first part. As in just past the start sign.
Finally we were underway. We ran following the odd runner in the distance. Looping around the course I told Jeanne I thought we needed to cross the bridge and follow the big crowd we had passed earlier. A man in a vest on a scooter pulled up and shouted at us to go under the bridge, follow the path. So we did. At the one mile marker we encountered one of the many sign holders. The lady was yelling encouragement. She shouts "Good job! Only twelve more miles to go!!", without missing a beat I respond you mean 5, we only have 5 miles left. Uhhh... it was at the point in conversing with some of the other runners we discovered that we were indeed running the half marathon route not the ten k route. Yikes!!
Jeanne tossed out some ideas and we decided to keep running. I was feeling great! My calf that had been tormenting me in the weeks leading up to the race was silent. I had a full tank so to speak. At about the 4 or 5 kilometre mark I started to notice something funny. I wasn't sure if it was the sunlight dappling through the trees or if I was seeing flashy lights. The next darker stretch I focused on some shadows only to have my vision flickering and flashing.
I occasionally get migraines. My migraines have auras. Hence the flashy lights. Anxiety flooded my body. As Jeanne chattered on about all our options, I worried about being in the middle of nowhere, running a half marathon and getting a migraine - with no meds, no nutrition. I started worrying about my blood sugar crashing - I had not planned on running this far. I can and have run 10k with no water, gels or food. My mind ran through scenarios of me crashing in the middle of the wilderness. The gorgeous wilderness that I was no longer enjoying.
As the kilometres ticked past my walk breaks became a little more frequent. I had not planned on taking walk breaks but I had also not planned on the woozy, nauseous feeling that accompany the migraine warning. With 10 k sign in sight I opt for a serious walk break.
My hip - which I normally don't have issues with - was seizing and cramping up. I was trying to walk normally but failing miserably. In the end, we walked about a kilometer before once again picking up the run. In total we ended up doing 15 kilometers at which point we returned to the town site and said screw it and went to get nutrition.
Gathering our goodies we returned to the car where I standing on the sidewalk began to switch out shirts, and in the backseat of the car pants. Grabbing my purse I dug out my trusty Advil Migraine strength pills of which I promptly chugged 2. Once upon a time I had prescription meds for the headaches but I've progressed and now can usually prevent the headache if I take the Advil quickly enough.
After eating (I was starving) we headed home for some well deserved naps. Hours later my headache is under control. What should have been a simple and fun race turned into a gong show. I ran farther than I ever have in my life and did it battling a migraine. And I ran a personal best 10k finishing in an hour and five minutes! Life is all about the unexpected and as Jeanne likes to say "There's plan A and then there's what really happens!"
Check out her blog on the same race at All About the Canadians.